The Music Of Jeffrey Jacob
In 2016, composer and pianist Jeffrey Jacob conducted interviews with children of illegal immigrants, whose plight ended up inspiring the pianist’s fifth symphony. Remarkably for a contemporary composition, the work is quite condensed timewise; nevertheless, it packs the whole gamut of human sentiment, with the movements titled I. Lagrimas [Tears], II. Fear; Grace, and III. Separation, Grief; Resolution, Triumph.
Next up are three works for piano and orchestra, with Jacob at the piano. His clarity of tone is striking and the perfect fit for his own compositions. For a 20th-century composer, Jacob’s music is surprisingly tonal. The sound is unique and evocative; had Olivier Messiaen studied with Rachmaninoff, the Adagietto from Jacob’s Piano Concerto No. 2 might well be the result. Epitaph (In Memoriam) is fittingly epic for its title and, in style, highly reminiscent of Shostakovich’s piano concertos. A highlight of the album, however, appears in the form of the two-movement The Persistence of Memory, in which Jacob shifts his aim from the 20th to the mid-19th century. After a modern introduction, the listener is greeted with a quotation of Schumann’s Fantasy Dance, and the beautifully lamenting solo cello contrasted with lyrical piano lines is a direct reminder of the German composer’s Piano Trio No. 2.
Lastly, the pianist harks back to the centerpiece of DREAMERS, his symphony: a lone oboe interspersed with electronics brings both the album and the fifth symphony’s subject to a close. The outward circumstances have not changed; but the intangible remains the same.